We all have our own memories of the celebrations for Fiji Day and mine are especially vivid in the years from 2012 to 2018 when I was working in Suva on the government’s communications effort. Most of these photos I took are from Fiji Day, 2012, before the new stadium was built on the Thurston Gardens side of Albert Park and certainly before the erection of the hideous 28 storey W.G Friendship Tower that has ruined the capital’s skyline.
It beggars belief that a vista that was pretty much unchanged from the time that Kingsford Smith landed the Southern Cross in Albert Park in 1928 should have been despoiled by a building that is a blight on our beloved State Precinct. But the story behind that is for another day. Back in 2012, my obsession was to get the Crest Chicken advertisement off the top of the Tennis Club building that was marring national occasions (that worked). But the Chinese monstrosity that now looms in the background is entirely something else.
These photos – from when Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was President – are also a reminder of our servicemen and women and the loyalty and dedication they give to the nation, not only to our own national life but through their contribution to keeping vulnerable people safe in more troubled parts of the world with their UN Peacekeeping. They are again taking centre stage at the 50th anniversary parade today and we salute them and thank them for their service.